Types of Talking Therapy

Talking therapy is a type of treatment for mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, phobias, addictions, and eating disorders, among many others.

This type of psychological treatment can also be helpful for people not living with a mental health condition, but who are going through a difficult period in their life and need support in coping with their situation.

Talking Therapy

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What Types of Talking Therapies Are There?

There is a wide range of different talking therapies available, although services may differ locally from area to area.

Not every type of therapy is suitable for every problem, so doctors may suggest a certain kind of therapy to help with a particular mental health condition, for example. Below are some of the most common types of talking therapy.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT helps people to recognize how they can react differently (more positively or helpfully) to thoughts, feelings, and actions that contribute to low mood or upsetting life events.

A CBT therapist will dig deeper into what is causing negative thinking, feelings of anxiety, or otherwise, and help patients to recognize and deal with the root cause of their problems. Sessions are focused on finding practical coping techniques and solutions.

Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT)

DBT blends some CBT techniques with meditation and can be done individually or in groups. The term dialectic refers to the balance of two opposing things. In the context of talking therapy, dialectic refers to the balance between accepting who you are and changing who you are to make positive changes in your life.

DBT focuses on helping people to change unhelpful behaviors while accepting their personality traits at the same time. It is most often used in the treatment of borderline personality disorder.


Counseling can be used to refer to all types of talking therapies, but it is its own, distinct type of talking therapy.

It can be used to talk about a huge range of mental health conditions or upsetting life events, from low self-esteem, anger issues, infertility, long-term health conditions, bereavement, work-related stress, to depression, anxiety, and eating disorders.

During counseling sessions, patients will be asked to talk in-depth about their feelings about their situation, and they will be helped in finding positive solutions to their problems.

Counseling can be done face to face individually or in groups, over the phone, via email or video calls, or through online live chat services.

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)

Mindfulness is a popular technique that helps people to focus on events, feelings, and sensations as they happen in real-time. MBCT combines mindfulness techniques with meditation and breathing exercises with cognitive therapy.

This technique aims to stop repetitive episodes of depression from reoccurring.

Behavioral Activation (BA)

BA is used to help with depression and can be done individually and in groups face to face with a therapist, or over the phone. Behavioral activation aims to give the person the motivation to make positive changes in their life.

There is also a focus on building problem-solving skills to better equip a patient in dealing with the issues that are contributing to their low mood. In this type of therapy, patients work toward engaging in actions that will, in turn, improve their mood or otherwise help them deal with their mental health issues.

Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)

IPT is used for depression. It focuses on helping patients to work through problems in their relationships with family, friends, and partners. It is based on the belief that negative or harmful relationships with others can contribute to low mood, and low mood can in turn harm relationships with loved ones.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR is used to help people living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It uses bilateral movements or stimulation (such as moving the eyes from side to side) to help the brain reprocess distressing memories caused by traumatic events.

It is believed that some biological mechanisms involved in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep are connected to the success of combining eye movement with processing and talking through a traumatic event.

Once a detailed history has been given, and the therapist has identified a memory to target in the therapy, patients are directed to identify a vivid visual image related to the traumatic event, a negative belief about themselves, and any related bodily sensations or emotions.

The goal of the therapy is to equip the patient with stress-reducing techniques and to effectively reduce the stress experienced when reliving a traumatic event.

The Benefits of Talking Therapies

Although the support from friends, family, and loved ones is important during difficult times, talking to a therapist can offer benefits. The support a trained therapist can offer will be impartial, respectful, and backed up by scientific methods proven to help reinforce positive feelings and mood.

Therapists will help patients to find solutions to their problems by breaking down their thought processes and analyzing their situation. They will also help patients to see their problems in a different way, which may help relieve some of the negative emotions or reactions associated with those problems.

Although talking therapy may not solve a person’s problems, it is useful in helping them to feel more in control and better able to cope with the situations they are facing.


Further Reading

Last Updated: Apr 10, 2020

Lois Zoppi

Written by

Lois Zoppi

Lois is a freelance copywriter based in the UK. She graduated from the University of Sussex with a BA in Media Practice, having specialized in screenwriting. She maintains a focus on anxiety disorders and depression and aims to explore other areas of mental health including dissociative disorders such as maladaptive daydreaming.


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